Monday, November 7, 2016

Restaurant Review: Leinenkugel's

The entrance to the restaurant is well marked.
   When you are looking for a party atmosphere in Kansas City you can usually rely on the Power & Light District to be a good venue. Recently they had their Halloween bash, which draws a ton of people in costume. Now we may not be the biggest party couple around, but we do savor the opportunity for some premium people watching. This certainly felt like the perfect chance to do some of that, while also enjoying a nice dinner out. The P&L is a great location to head when you are struggling with what you want to do. The district offers a wide variety of restaurants, bars, nightclubs, and entertainment options. On this evening we decided to try a new restaurant for us, so we picked Leinenkugel's Kansas City.

Lots of seating options available.
    Since this was our first visit, we hoped to find out a little about the background of this uniquely named restaurant. The host offered us a choice of low-top or high-top table, and proceeded to seat us right at the edge of the outdoor patio section. On a warm evening this was perfect, since we felt the air-conditioning, but had a view of the outdoors. Our server Alex arrived promptly and had a very upbeat attitude. When we asked about the unusual name, he explained that the company is an offshoot of the Leinenkugel Brewery in Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin. This German family began the brewery in 1867, and is now being ran by the sixth generation of family members. Quite an inspiring story of family tradition. Our server went on to explain that many of the menu items are crafted with some of the beers that the brewery offers, especially where batters are involved. He gave us a few pointers on navigating the menu, and then left us to decide.

The highlight of the bar is the large on-tap selection.
   Now obviously beer is a huge draw at this location, but neither of us were in the mood for this particular beverage, so we passed. I did a cursory review of the drink menu, and found that they have over a dozen varieties on tap, and twice that many in bottles. They also offer a handful of beer cocktails and blends. Perhaps on a subsequent visit I may sample one of these, but for this evening we were drinking other concoctions. After a few minutes of deliberation, we decided on our selections. After placing our orders, we sat back to enjoy the evening. I wish I would have thought of taking a picture of the view from our table. We were seated at a low-top at the edge of the outdoor patio. This gave us a fantastic view of the outdoor seating area, which includes a fire feature. It certainly looks like a great location for a romantic dinner on a crisp evening.

The menu is easy to read and staff was quick to help with additional information.
   The menu at Leinenkugel's Kansas City leans more toward the side of handheld foods. There are a few salad options, and most are fairly complex in the mix of ingredients. If you are stopping by for their weekday Happy Hours, which run from 3:00 to 7:00 Monday through Friday,  you will find quite a few appetizer options. One of the more popular snack items is their Beer Battered Cheese Curds. We didn't try them, but they are supposed to be very good. If you have had the experience of tasting them, please leave a description of them in the "Comments" section below. As far as the full plate items go, there are a few varieties of street tacos, as well as a wide sampling of burgers and sandwiches to choose from. A handful of larger entree items round out the menu, and of course there are also a small group of desserts.

Chicken and Avocado Sandwich with Fries.
   After a reasonable amount of time our dinners arrived. My wife had ordered the Chicken & Avocado sandwich, which comes on Ciabatta bread. The chicken breast is marinated and then grilled. It comes topped with lettuce tomato, avocado slices, Swiss cheese, and ranch dressing. The flavor was great, but the sandwich gets a little messy with all of those toppings. Of course, that didn't prevent her from finishing it off, but she had to stop periodically to realign. She chose the fries, as she almost always does. They were good, but nothing special. I had a few as well, and by the end of the meal her plate was cleared.

Pulled Pork Cuban with Onion Rings.
  Now I had scoped out this restaurant in advance, and picked it because of one specific menu item. Whenever we try a restaurant I look for a Cuban sandwich. It is amazingly hard to find good ones being offered, and if you know of anyplace that has one, please tell me about it in the "Comments" section. I will be eternally grateful. I asked Alex if the one they served was good, and he said it is, but it is a little bit of a twist on the traditional recipe. The ingredients are roughly the same, but the mustard is not really spicy, so it does miss that kick. Still it was good, and the smoked pork was excellent. this sandwich is pressed, which did leave the edges of the bread a little tough. I almost always choose the onion rings for my side, so that we can share those and the fries. These were good and crispy, but the dipping sauce held little flavor. I would have preferred more kick here, as well.

The happy couple heading out for the evening.
   Our overall impression was positive, and plans will be made to visit again. The fish and chips sound appealing, and we are interested in trying the homemade beer batter. The prices were reasonable, and the portions are certainly filling. Service was prompt, although we were there before it got too busy, but there were plenty of extra servers just waiting for the crowd to arrive. Everyone seemed friendly and helpful, and we had interaction with others beside our server. The ambiance inside the restaurant was a mix between bar and restaurant, and certainly made to be comfortable. If you are interested in learning more about the location or menu visit

A werewolf on a mechanical bull is not a sight we see every day.
   As we stated at the beginning of this post, we made this visit for the annual Halloween Party. It was a great evening of people watching, and we saw many unique and inventive costumes. Of course there were the old standards, but we noticed a growing number of ideas based on social media. After dinner we wandered over to PBR Big Sky, a country music bar, and watched people attempt to ride the bull while in costume. This supplied us with lots of entertainment, and we had quite the night. We hope your Halloween was just as hauntingly wonderful.

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